Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse was a guest on Jonah Goldberg’s podcast The Remnant this week and Jonah asked him about the Senate race in Alabama. Sasse’s response can be applied to politics on the right in general.
“Crappy” may be an inartful way of describing Republican politics lately but that makes it no less accurate in my opinion.
“And it feels like the Republican candidate in Alabama is also, you know, not persuasive to lots of national politicians, but they just want the important stuff to be – to be power and politics,” Sasse said.
“And we don’t know how to talk about what limited government and universal human dignity are about. And so I think we’re getting a new kind of identity politics – of kind of – white backlash grievance, which isn’t surprising that the right would echo the left. It isn’t surprising if you don’t have principles and it feels like these parties don’t have a lot of principles. And the Alabama Senate race looks just that crappy to me.”
I think this encapsulates the nature of the current divide on the right. Many of us here at RedState have been highly critical of the new philosophy of some who say we should use the left’s own tactics against them. Doing that amounts to exactly what Sasse describes, “a new kind of identity politics.”
I think there is definitely an element of “white backlash grievance” but I don’t think race is the primary factor because I see the same backlash coming from many non-white people on the right as well. It’s a manifestation of needing to hit back after eight years under the far left Obama administration. Short-term political victories take priority over long-term strategy and actual progress toward returning to a more constitutionally limited federal government.
As an active member of the tea party movement, I encountered many people who at first seemed to reflect my values and opinions but over time made me feel uncomfortable with their views on race or the relationship between religion and politics. In a candidate like Roy Moore, I see many of those people from whom I now want to distance myself politically. Some who claim to be conservatives really only want to establish their own tyranny that victimizes those by whom they feel they have been victimized.
The hysterical pundits who ridicule all but total fealty to the “new right” under Donald Trump will undoubtedly chalk that up as a betrayal. I don’t care.
Sasse is correct. The right has largely lost its ability (and credibility) to talk about limited government. We’re watching them flail at Obamacare with barely a mention of the basic principles of individual liberty that Obamacare violates. It’s all about process and perceived political victories and rubbing the left’s nose in it.
The same is true of tax reform. The discussion is all gobbledygook about brackets and deductions with virtually no discussion of the inherent immorality of so much of our tax code. I believe tax cuts will boost the economy but boosting the economy shouldn’t be the primary reason for reforming our tax system. The primary reason should be liberty, but the right will mostly settle for knocking a few percentage points off to benefit certain constituencies—and control the behavior of certain others—so the “new right” can say, “Suck on that, libtards.”
“Principles” has become a dirty word for many—a word to mocked because if it is taken seriously it reveals the hollowness of the political instant gratification many people are seeking. Simply put though, principles are a destination. Plan a journey with no destination and you end up going in circles. That’s a pretty “crappy” way to travel.